Tag Archives: volunteer

“Do you have more friends like you?”

Nope, not a pick-up line in a singles bar, but rather a question I was asked while answering phones and doing office tasks at the Historical Society yesterday. I go out to work in the servant’s quarters, where the offices are located, behind Kearney Mansion, for the week leading up to the Civil War Reenacted. Although this is only my third year of volunteering, the event is celebrating 25 years. It is a huge endeavor and takes lots of manpower. This year, unfortunately, my schedule is so impacted that I can only offer three days of office service.

The director has also given me a schedule of tour dates for December for the Victorian Christmas that will again take place in Kearney Mansion. I love doing those tours because the house is decorated so beautifully and the content of the tour shifts from M. Theodore Kearney to Christmas in the early 1900s. I can only provide three days for the tours as December has begun to fill up. The school chaplaincy position looks to be filling two days a week due to the large number of first grade classes at the school I am assigned. Then one day a week is set aside for Good News Club at another elementary school.

This prompted the question, do you have any friends like you. Oh, yes, I have a group of friends who were co-workers at that large inner-city high school where we all toiled those many years. We all worked so hard, and we worked so well together. This is the group I now call “Ladies Who Lunch.” We only got a short lunch while teaching, and usually we had students in and out of our office the whole period, so we said, “we want to be ladies who lunch, who have time to to OUT for lunch and spend hours eating and talking.” Now retired, that’s what we do.

But, we all do much more than “lunch.” My friends are also involved in numerous activities so they wouldn’t be available to the Historical Society. They are smart, funny, dependable, hard-working, can follow directions; and did I say, SMART? These are all attributes that any non-profit is looking for in volunteers, and from what I’m hearing, there aren’t a lot of qualified applicants out there. Most with those attributes are already so busy that they can’t take on any more unpaid work.

When I retired from teaching I had no intention of retiring from work. My goal was to do good work with good people. That has certainly been the case. Getting to pick and choose my projects has made a world of difference. It would, of course, be nice if some of the projects actually paid some money!


Works well with others

When I taught high school at that inner city school, I was in the business department with five to six other women. We all worked very hard, contributing to the department’s success with our various talents. It was a success, all the way around, and a joy to work there. I always said, I work with the best people.

When I retired, that was a goal, to continue to work with the best people. There are not that many out there. I hold to a certain standard of quality of work, but I also want to enjoy the people with whom I do that work. No matter what the task, working with crummy people can zap one’s spirit.

Working with the historical committee at church on the 130th anniversary project, I found another group of kindred souls. Each person had a special talent that they added to the group, and they were so much fun to work with. They all had the desire to reach a high level of quality.

There have been a few other groups along the past three years with which I’ve worked that I cannot say the same thing. Many wanted me on their team because I worked so hard and at a high level but they didn’t feel the need to do likewise.  I’ve moved on.

This past week, and all of next week, I am working with Fresno Historical Society, answering the phones and doing “go-fer” work. I really don’t mind what I have to do because, again, the women with whom I am working are wonderful. They demand a high quality of work, and they give the same in all they do. They are funny, and smart, and an all-round good bunch.

So, I have learned something in these past three years. It matters not what work I am doing; what matters are the people with whom I am working.

And it helps to have a view like this when one works:

The porch of the servant's quarters.

The porch of the servant’s quarters at Kearney Mansion.

Silver bells


Fashion Fair Mall, our regional shopping center, is not my favorite place, but for one day during the holiday season, I make my way there, park, and wend my way to the mall entrance to Macy’s where our church is responsible for the Salvation Army kettle.

It’s only a two-hour commitment. Terry and I do it together, and it’s over very quickly because we have such a good time. The little children are precious when they bring the money their parents or grandparents have given them to offer. We have candy canes for all givers, but the little ones just light up when we hand them the treat. Most kids who pass by look enviously at the bell I’m ringing. I’m tempted to offer them the chance to ring it, but I’m not too sure how the parent might feel about that.

We usually do an early morning shift and then have lunch at the food court in the mall. Unfortunately, Fashion Fair’s selection is pretty sparse. Today we chose Deli Delicious and shared a turkey and avocado sandwich.

Terry had a meeting afterwards so we had come in separate cars. When I got back to my primo parking space, there was a line of cars snaking through the parking lot. The lady who was behind me, waiting for a spot to open up, clapped her hands when I pulled out. Glad I made someone so happy.

Not more green beans!

The banquet hall

Terry and I attended the Red Heart Ball for Ronald McDonald House Central Valley last night. We had been asked to attend so that Terry could take photos of the evening. It was a lovely event with over 700 people in attendance to raise money for the local Ronald McDonald House for whom I have been doing some volunteer work.

Enjoying a glass of wine with the executive director

I got a good friend to volunteer at the house, and I went along for support and found lots of places where Terry and I could use our skills. Because Terry does photography for another nonprofit organization, one of the Ronald McDonald House employees asked if he would do likewise for them. Of course. It’s our way of giving back.

Last night, not only were Terry and I in attendance, but so was my friend who has been volunteering at the house. Here she is, pouring wine:

Another dear friend, who just retired from the same school where I taught for 21 years, was there last night with her husband who serves on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House.

Dinner was a fabulous meal with filet mignon as the main course. The vegetable was green beans. I would usually be happy to see green beans, but we have been getting this veggie in our CSA box for the last four weeks. We have been eating a lot of green beans, so when I saw the ones last night, I sighed. Not more green beans.

Today, after operating the camera at church and teaching Sunday School, Terry and I came home to work on editing over 400 photos that were shot last night. It took much of the afternoon and suddenly it was dinner time. I quickly threw together some chicken patties, carrots, cornbread dressing, and, guess what?Green beans. Yep, we still have some left from that last CSA box.

We are fighting the Civil War in Fresno this weekend

For a couple of decades now, Kearney Park, in Fresno, has played host to the Civil War Reinactors on the last weekend in October. This event is assisted by the Fresno County Historical Society for whom I volunteered earlier this year by giving tours here: 



This week I am working around back, in the servant’s quarters, answering phones for the Historic Society as the regular employees hurry and scurry with last minute details for this weekend. There is more information about the event at the society’s website.



My address for two weeks

My address for two weeks

Junior High Camp has begun.  We are at Sugar Pine Camp, above Oakhurst, and below Yosemite.   Terry and I have the title of lead counselors.  Whatever that means.  We take sick kids to emergicare.  We check cabins every morning and make sure lights are out every night.  During the day we hang out with campers and counselors, staff and whoever else happens to come along.

Although cooler than the San Joaquin Valley, it can still get very warm.  The camp has a pond and a pool in which the campers delight every afternoon.  There is also a high ropes course and a paintball field.  Plenty to do after a morning of worship and games.

I am not a great camper.  I’m not even any kind of camper.  My idea of camping out is staying in a deluxe hotel.  But, for two weeks we will camp at the lowest denominator I am willing to go.  Our room is very small, very compact, and our food is supplied (except I have a bag I call the “kitchen”) at the staff dining room, just off the main dining room for the campers.  I always appreciate my house at the end of these two weeks.

Our 160 sq foot room for two weeks

Our 160 sq foot room for two weeks